R, Session 2, London, July 2019

The spare/dining room here needs to serve several functions. It’s a place to sleep, eat and work as well as to provide storage for R’s children’s possessions while they are abroad. There’s a fold down bed in the centre of the cupboard unit which is a really clever way to save on space, and the table can be folded down too.

Before, paperwork was bundled on the sideboard and table, waiting to be actioned or filed. One priority was to find a suitable place for it so once work has been done it can be out of sight and out of mind.

We started with the cupboards, and went through the vacuum bags on the top shelf. They’re handy for storage of bulky items like duvets and pillows, but they didn’t work too well for the bedding. Instead we removed the sets and folded them neatly so they’re easy to see and reach. We piled blankets separately and left room for other textiles R may come across in the rest of the flat.

Then we moved the stationery and papers out of the cupboard to be sorted with the rest. Once these had been sorted through, we found a place for them in baskets (see above) that originally held cat food, that were no longer needed because of the kitchen declutter. There’s one for papers that need filing and one for papers that need acted upon. There was also room for a basic kit of stationery supplies that might be needed day to day. Next we sorted through some handbags, and I hung the ones used every day on coat hangers here, as this cupboard is near the door and easy to get to.

In the other cupboard, we decided whether to keep, donate or sell each handbag and then sorted them all by type. I hung most of them along the empty rail, and stored some underneath in their protective covers.

Almost everything else belongs to R’s two children, so we couldn’t declutter much but we were able to organise each one’s things together, sorted by type so that when they are next home they can go through things themselves and can access it all easily.

The photos below show the difference that a system for paperwork can make. We uncovered some napkins and made a display with the glassware to create a calm and functional space.

This corner chair became a place to just leave things that didn’t have a set space, but it soon became a seat again and a great place to sit and read.

In order to make this happen, R was willing to part with things that weren’t being used, and confronted a whole host of feelings about her belongings. It isn’t an easy process, but she agreed that once we had finished it had been worth the effort. Immediately she moved some work supplies through so she could sit at the table again! With the space ordered and cleared up, the room felt calm and welcoming again, and we were both happy with the results.